NEIL Lennon has admitted he expected to be facing Derek McInnes in the opposition dugout at Easter Road tonight when Hibernian play Rangers - and suggested concerns over the financial position at Ibrox may have convinced the Aberdeen manager to remain at Pittodrie.

But Lennon stated he has been impressed with the job Graeme Murty had done since being appointed caretaker and predicted he could land the job on a full-time basis if he continues to do well – as he did at Celtic.

McInnes, who has led Aberdeen to three consecutive runners-up finishes, surprised many in Scottish football last Thursday when he turned down the chance to move to his former club Rangers, who had made an official approach to their rivals on Tuesday.

Read more: Graeme Murty: Hibernian will be more 'intense' against Rangers than they were in draw with Celtic

Lennon, whose Hibs side will be looking to follow up their 2-2 draw with Celtic at home on Sunday by recording their second win of the season over the Ibrox club, was one of those who was taken aback by his decision.

“I would have expected Derek to be in the dugout tonight,” he said. “It’s Derek’s decision. I’m only surmising, but he had a tough time at Bristol City behind the scenes. When you’ve had that, and I’ve had it at Bolton, you don’t want to be firefighting again. So maybe that’s one of the reasons.

“He’s very happy an in a stable environment at Aberdeen and he’s already turned down Sunderland, which looks like the right decision. It’s not about the money for Derek, I don’t think. It’s about the right club and a stable environment and maybe the reason he decided to stay was he was going into the unknown a bit.

“I had a really difficult time at Bolton for non-footballing reasons. We were swimming against the tide, the club was nearly in administration a couple of times and players were not getting paid.

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"You don’t want to go into that scenario again if you can avoid it. It’s not enjoyable and it’s not why you go into football management. I had chances to come back to other jobs before Hibs. But you have to be patient.”

Lennon added: “But I was surprised. They (Rangers) backed (Pedro) Caixinha in the summer and they are the only club outwith Celtic that has those kind of resources. That can be a very powerful draw.

“If it had been me I would have taken it. Finish second, you’ve done your job and build from there. But I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a big big club and they are difficult to turn down.”

Lennon was appointed interim manager at Celtic towards the end of the 2009/10 season after Tony Mowbray was sacked and did well in the final weeks of the season to to be appointed full-time.

The Northern Irishman believes Murty, who has led Rangers to three consecutive victories for the first time in a year since succeeding Pedro Caixinha back in October, can do the same if the Ibrox club continue to perform well under him.

Read more: Reaction after win over Aberdeen gave Graeme Murty an insight into Rangers' mentality

“They had two very impressive performances against Aberdeen, particularly at home,” he said. “Then they backed that up with a really good win at the weekend. They are in a decent place I suppose.

“My role (at Celtic) was a little bit different. I knew what I was doing - take the club until the end of the season. I don’t think Graeme actually has the luxury of knowing what the timescale is so, in that regard, he has handled things very well. He speaks well, any questions he can’t answer, he bats them off.

“If he wants the job, then it’s all about results. If he keeps the result going, then why not? Now there doesn’t seem to be any outstanding candidates, which is strange. Now that Derek has decided to stay, he is in a good position.

“Whether he wants it or not, I couldn’t answer that. I certainly wanted the Celtic job and tried to make a right good first of it at the time. He seems to be doing the same.

“He’ll absolutely be looking at this as a massive opportunity. Why can’t he do it? That’s what he should be thinking. Make the most of the opportunity that is there and, if the board decide not to offer it, then at least your reputation is in good order and perhaps someone else will pick up on that.”